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Benjamin Netanyahu’s first test
Will Israel’s incoming leader form a unity government with Tzipi Livni, or a right-wing coalition?
 

“A decade after Israelis drummed him from office,” Benjamin Netanyahu is poised to take power one again, said the Chicago Tribune in an editorial. The question is: Which Netanyahu will take office? The “touchy-feely” one who said he will help Palestinians rebuild the West Bank, or the “arrogant, hardheaded Dr. No-Two-State-Solution”? Our first clue will be if he can bring his “moderate rival,” the Kadima party’s Tzipi Livni, into a centrist government.

If Livni is smart, she’ll say no to being a “fig leaf” for Netanyahu, said Jeff Barak in The Jerusalem Post. Israeli voters gave Kadima one more seat in parliament than Likud, but they also “clearly gave the Right a mandate to govern.” Livni should let them govern alone—hopefully, the resulting “ugly picture” will mean an “early end” to Netanyahu’s far-right coalition.

Livni said during the campaign she wouldn’t take “a junior position” to Netanyahu, said David Hazony in Commentary, but opposing Netanyahu would spell near-certain doom for Kadima. "Opposition can be great for a party with a clear ideological or policy platform,” but that’s not Kadima. This is Livni’s first big leadership test, and it could be her last.

Livni will say no, said Lebanon’s The Daily Star in an editorial, and it will be “a great joy for Israel’s enemies” to watch Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition try to enact their “outlandish” agenda of “unchecked settlement expansion, murder, collective punishment, and other various crimes.” After he alienates Israel’s friends in the West, who will be left to stand by the Jewish state?

 

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